Newport Beach Police Department shared a message of safety this week in observance of both National Bike Month and National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
Along with the California Office of Traffic Safety, NBPD is encouraging drivers, motorcyclists and bicycle riders to share the road and look out for one another, police officials wrote in a set of press releases shared on Monday.
“Traffic safety is a shared responsibility,” NBPD Lieutenant Joe Cartwright said in one of the prepared statements. “People get around in a variety of ways, including bikes and walking, so it is important that we are aware of one another and do our part to ensure everyone is able to get to their destination safely.”
The warmer weather means a lot more motorcycles will be out on the road across California as well.
“Motorcycle riders are out in the open and are harder to see,” Cartwright noted. “Drivers and riders should take extra precautions by keeping their distance and watching their speed.”
During the month of May, the Newport Beach Police Department will step up enforcement specifically geared toward stopping drivers and motorcycle riders for traffic violations that increase the risk of crashes.
With nearly 900,000 registered motorcycles in the state, Californians enjoy a hobby that can be challenging, and does not have the same protections as drivers in the event of a crash. In 2017, a reported 576 people were killed in motorcycle crashes statewide, a nearly 17 percent increase from 2015.
Police reported that deaths in bicycle-related crashes are also on the rise. In 2016, there were 138 bicycle riders killed on California roads, a nearly 25 percent increase from 2011.
Among the primary factors in these crashes were failing to yield the right of way, speeding, improper turning, using the wrong side of the road and not following traffic signs or signals.
“Bicycle safety remains a key concern in our community,” Cartwright continued. “It is why this month – and really every month – we are committed to educating and informing the public on safe ways to travel, whether on two wheels or four.”
Police shared a few tips to ensure the safety of everyone on the road: Drivers should look behind them before making a turn at an intersection, especially if crossing into a designated bike lane; Drivers should use extra caution backing-up or leaving a parking space; California law requires drivers to allow at least three feet of space when passing a bicycle; Bicyclists should make themselves visible and wear brightly colored clothing; Bicyclists are advised to use lights from dusk to dawn (front white light and rear red flashing light or reflectors); Bicyclists should always wear a helmet and use hand signals when turning or stopping; Bicyclists must travel in the same direction of traffic and have the same requirements as any slow moving vehicle; and both drivers and bicyclists should avoid distractions like using their cell phone.
Police also offered some safety practices for drivers and motorcycle riders.
Drivers: Check your mirrors and blind spots. Make sure your vehicle’s rear and side-view mirrors are adjusted properly; Use your signal when changing lanes. If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, make sure the motorcycle is turning before proceeding; Slow down behind motorcycles and keep your distance; Never share a lane with a motorcycle; Be aware of motorcycles lane splitting, which is legal. Give riders enough room to pass; and always look twice at intersections and allow enough space for a motorcycle to clear the roadway before making a turn.
Motorcyclists: Always wear a helmet, bright colors and protective gear; Use your turn signal at every lane change or turn; Turn lights on even during the day; Keep your distance; Consider the width of lanes, roadway and weather conditions when lane splitting; Avoid lane splitting next to larger vehicles such as big rigs, buses and motorhomes; and remember it is more dangerous to split lanes at higher speeds. It is safer to split between the far-left lanes.
NBPD encourages all motorcycle riders, new and experienced, to enroll in the California Highway Patrol’s motorcycle training course. For more information, visit californiamotorcyclist.com.
Funding for both programs is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.